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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Following an argument with his wife
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: May 19, 1992
Date of birth: 1928
Victims profile: His wife, Jocelyn Marie Schlaepfer, 55; his three sons, Peter Wayne, 39, Karl Percival , 33, and Darrell Bryan, 31; Peter's wife Hazel Jean, 42, and their son Aaron, 11
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Shooting
Location: Pukekohe, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

Another in a long list of New Zealand rampagers. In May, 1992, 64-year-old wealthy farmer Brian Schlaepfer shot or stabbed six members of his family before killing himself with a shotgun at Pukekohe, near the northern city of Auckland. Only his granddaugher Linda, then nine, survived the massacre.


Grandfather kills farm family

Tehe New Zealand Herald

May 21, 1992

Surviving members of the Schlaepfer family were last night having to cope with the devastating deaths of seven of their number in a shooting spree.

The deaths have left two girls, Linda Schaepfer, aged 9, and her sister, Kerry, aged 14, orphans. Their father, mother, brother, two uncles and grandmother were killed yesterday morning by their grandfather, Brian Schlaepfer, aged 64, when he went berserk with a shotgun.


Gunman had refused treatment

The New Zealand Herald

May 22, 1992

The police said yesterday that Brian Schlaepfer had apparently refused treatment in the past few weeks for the depression he was suffering.

Relatives of some of the six family members he killed said his wife, Jocelyn Schlaepfer, had been worried about his depression but he would not seek help, said the Auckland police media officer, Senior Sergeant Graham Bell.


Grandfather kills family

Surviving members of the Schlaepfer family were last night having to cope with the devastating deaths of seven of their number in a shooting spree. The shootings have stunned the community near Pukekohe where the Schlaepfer family has been farming for five generations over 106 years and tributes were flowing in last night.

The deaths have left two girls, Linda Schlaepfer, aged 9, and her sister, Kerry, aged 14, orphans. Their father, mother, brother, two uncles and grandmother were killed yesterday morning by their grandfather, Brian Schlaepfer, aged 64, when he went berserk with a shotgun. He was later found dead in bush on the family farm, in Ostrich Farm Rd, north-west of Pukekohe. He had shot himself.

The other dead were: Jocelyn Marie Schlaepfer, aged 55; Darrell Bryan Schlaepfer, 31; Peter Wayne Schlaepfer, 39; Karl Percival Schlaepfer, 33; Hazel Jean Schlaepfer, 42; and Aaron Schlaepfer, 11.

Aaron’s sister, Linda, escaped her grandfather’s fire by hiding. Kerry was not on the property, having stayed overnight at the home of a friend in Pukekohe. Another pair of sisters, the two adult daughters of Brian and Jocelyn Schlaepfer, have lost both parents and their three brothers. They are Mrs. Gail Johnson, aged 37, believed to be of Papakura, and Mrs. Delwyn Postles, 34, of Paerath, who was yesterday holidaying in Whitianga when she heard of the tragedy.

Farm worker

Nine family members lived at the Ostrich Farm Rd property, in three houses. Three others who lived on the property, Darrell’s de facto wife and her two children, were not there during the shootings.

A farmhand was whisked to safety after stumbling on the carnage soon after arriving to start work. The early morning shootings sparked a mass police alert. Sixty officers, many of them armed, rushed to the Paerata farm from different parts of Auckland. Road cordons, using combined police and traffic forces, kept a horde of reports, locals and several weeping relatives of the victims at bay throughout the seven-hour drama.

Ambulances waiting to enter the cordons to help the injured had to wait until the police were satisfied their route was clear. The police helicopter kept a watch from above, with the Westpac rescue helicopter providing back-up several times when the Eagle needed to refuel.

The police were first alerted to the emergency by a telephone call shortly after 7.30 am, believed to be from Mrs Hazel Schlaepfer before she died. As soon as about 20 members of the armed offenders squad arrived about 8 am they began closing in on the Ostrich Farm Rd property.

Gunshot wounds

They were unsure where the gunman, Brian Schlaepfer, was and whether he was still armed as they set out to try to rescue Linda and any other surviving members of her family. Inspector Ash Edwards, head of the armed offenders squad, said they found the first two bodies, Brian’s wife, Jocelyn, and their youngest son, Karl, dead from gunshot wounds in the house at the front of the property.

Two men, Mr Schlaepfer’s other sons, Peter and Darrell, lay dead outside an implements shed further down the driveway. A trail of blood leading into the rear house suggested Mrs Hazel Schlaepfer had been shot but had managed to make it inside to a telephone to call for help before the receiver was dropped.

Off the hook

Linda maintained telephone contact with the police on another telephone in a barricaded upstairs room to which she had fled from her grandfather. At 11 am members of the armed offenders squad, not knowing if the gunman was still around, burst into the farmhouse and rescued Linda. When they came back downstairs they found her brother Aaron shot dead in his bedroom and her mother, Hazel Schlaepfer, slumped on the floor in the kitchen.

A blood-splattered phone receiver was dangling off the hook nearby.

There was no sign of the gunman, however. The squad then split in two, with one group searching the building and the other nearby areas of bush. Almost seven hours after the drama began the police found Mr Schlaepfer’s body in the bush behind the last house. He was dead, lying with a shotgun across his chest. Police believe he died a short time after shooting six members of his family.

Two other weapons were found during the police search of the property. A shotgun was recovered in one house, and a .22 rifle had been discarded in the open.

"It was fairly traumatic." Said Inspector Edwards, to come across that scene but still maintain a "high risk profile" in case the offender was hiding somewhere. "Our adrenaline was running. We have no idea of the location of an armed offender and we’re finding dead persons in put tracks. It’s the biggest mass death that we have dealt with since my time in the squad."

Inspector Edwards praised the cool headed nature of young Linda, saying that when she was taken to a safe assembly point she seemed surprisingly composed. "She did more than we would want anybody to do … and performed a remarkable feat," he said of the standard three pupil from Paerata School.

Petra Cleven, who lives opposite the Schlaepfer’s was hanging out her washing when she heard three shots fired in quick succession. They were followed by terrified screams and crying. Mrs Cleven said she went around the front of her house to investigate and heard another two shots, followed again by "a terrible screaming and crying and a sort of groan." The noises were coming from the Schlaepfer’s property but she could not see any movement.

The principal at Paerata Primary School, Mr John McGiven, said his students would have a hard time understanding the tragedy. Aaron, whom he had taught last term in form one, had been friendly and popular with his classmates. The youngster had a good imagination and an "interesting sense of humour," said Mr McGiven. Linda was a friendly, thoughtful girl, he said, quite mature in her ways.

He was not surprised to learn she had been so courageous and levelheaded throughout the ordeal.

Mr McGiven referred to Hazel Schlaepfer, the children’s mother as "the salt of the earth type. The children were always beautifully dressed. The family was quite involved in school activities and very generous in giving vegetables for galas and things."


"I think he's going to shoot me"

"My granddad has shot my brother … and I think he’s going to shoot me."

The words were spoken calmly by a frightened 9-year-old girl whose mother and 11-year-old brother lay dead in their home on a farm near Paerata, South Auckland, early yesterday. It was 7.47 am and Linda Schlaepfer had just picked up the telephone left dangling by her mother, Hazel, minutes earlier. Her mother’s hideously disfigured body was only metres away on the kitchen floor of the four-bedroom house.

On the other end of the line was Constable Jeff Stuck, a control room operator at the Auckland Central police station. Seven minutes earlier Constable Stuck had received a 111 call from a hysterical Hazel Schlaepfer, but their conversation had ended abruptly when the telephone was dropped. In the background he could hear raised voices, one of them a man’s and then a shot. Five minutes passed in silence before Linda came on the line.

"She was very clinical in the things that she described to me," said Constable Stuck.

The little girl told the constable that she was in bed when she heard a shot fired inside the house. She ran to hide, first in her bedroom closet, then under her bed.

"She told me she heard her grandfather come into the room and call her name – her mother was still screaming in the background at that stage," said Constable Stuck. He said Linda’s grandfather, Brian Schlaepfer, walked out of the bedroom and went into the kitchen and dining room area at the rear of the house.

"She heard him having a heated exchange with her mother. She heard another shot then and heard the back door close and the offender outside calling her name."

Linda went into her 11-year-old brother Aaron’s bedroom across the hall and saw him lying on his back on the floor clutching at a gunshot wound in his chest. She was later to tell Constable Stuck that she had heard Aaron begging her grandfather not to kill him. She then went into the dining room and picked up the phone to begin a conversation with the constable, which would last nearly three hours.

At that stage neither knew that Linda’s mother, her father, Peter, her uncles Darrell and Karl, and her grandmother Jocelyn had been killed by her grandfather. Constable Stuck, who has a 17-month-old daughter of his own, said he was surprised at the calmness displayed by his young informant.

"I was amazed at just how brave and intelligent the girl was. She became very scared when she realised that the offender was possibly still outside and she knew that he was hunting her – she was quite distressed about that, understandably," said the 30-year-old policeman. "I couldn’t do much to calm her down except to suggest that she go and hide straight away."

Linda locked the two doors at the rear of the house and made her way to an upstairs room where she barricaded herself in with tables and chairs. She resumed the conversation with Constable Stuck using an upstairs telephone.

"She sort of hit a wall when she realised just what had happened and was very, very upset when she realised she could possibly lose her whole family," said the constable. "At that stage I had been talking to her for three-quarters of an hour. She was controlled pretty much all the way through."

Constable Stuck said he became greatly alarmed when Linda told him she could hear noises at the door.

"I knew that armed offenders squad was in the immediate vicinity as were other armed police and I assumed at that stage that they had not entered the house. I thought yes, that may have been the offender come back to try and locate her. It transpired that it may have been cats – she was very concerned about three of her pet cats that hadn’t had breakfast and I had to assure her that the police would be feeding the cats."

Constable Stuck talked to Linda about her school interests – her ballet and jazz dancing, and about how her family had been to the movies the day before. "We talked about the movies quite a bit," he said.

Every 15 minutes or so he would have to cut in to try obtain more details of the tragedy for police outside the house and converging on the area.

"She was able to give us good information about the house – unfortunately she didn’t know where the offender had gone, which gave her great concern and me in the control room great concern."

During her ordeal, Linda decided on a password she would use when the armed offenders squad reached her. The word was "rabbit." Constable Stuck said he could hear the squad members in the background when Linda was rescued. Linda said to him: "They’re knocking on the door now, are you sure it is the police?"

"I had a line to the armed offenders squad in the house and I confirmed that it was the police"

After the house was cleared, Constable Stuck found himself emotionally exhausted. He said being a father made it easier to establish a rapport with the terrified girl.

"The time went fairly quickly when I look back but I can assure you that at the time when she was in the upstairs room and we could both hear noises downstairs and I knew the armed offenders squad wasn’t ready I assumed the worst. She was great, really brave – she was concerned that the rest of the family were being hunted – she thought that the offender was going to hunt further members of the family and that gave her a lot of concern."


Brian Schlaepfer

Brian Schlaepfer was a highly respect individual in the farming community of Paerata, New Zealand. He owned over one hundred acres of land, on which he had built houses for most of his family. He had founded the local gliding club, donated a piece of land for the scouts to camp on, and at one stage had been a scoutmaster. But all this was soon to count for nothing.

His daughter-in-law, Hazel, had been plotting to have the old man removed as boss of the family farm, and have him replaced by herself. She had already convinced his sons that he was too old to run the place. Poor old Brian knew exactly what was going on, and coupled with a troublesome heart, he decided it was time to sort the scheming bitch and his traitorous family out.

Around Dawn on May 19, 1992, he finally flipped. He awoke, went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. He then went back into the bedroom and hacked his wife to death. He then grabbed his gun and went after one of his sons, Karl, 33. He walked into Karl's bedroom and before Karl knew what was going on he had a big fucking hole in his head. He then went after grandson Aaron, 11, who he killed with a single blast. Then he spotted his Aaron's little sister Linda, 9 years old. Luckily for Linda her scheming bitch mother got in the way of the bullet, falling dead, and allowing young Linda to escape.

Schlaepfer then left the house in search of his sons, who were working on the farm. He found them, and they found death not long afterwards, both from gunshot wounds. Around this time little Linda was on the phone to the police.

She was describing the mornings excitement to local cop Jeff Stuck.

"My granddad's shot my brother."

"Shot your brother?"

"Yes, and he's coming to shoot me."

"He's going to shoot you now?"

"Yes, he's looking for me."

"Is your mum there; can your mum come to the phone?"

"No... Mummy's dead. My brothers been shot and he's groaning and twitching."

Eventually Linda gave police directions to the farm. A special squad were sent out to the farm to find Schlaepfer, who had no more relatives to kill, except Linda. At around 3.00pm they found him. He was lying dead from a gunshot wound to the head in an open field.

Amazingly, Brian Schlaepfer was buried next to the six family members he had killed. And Linda was at the mass funeral for all seven. It was reported in a local paper at the time that she didn't say a word, or even cry.

The Wacky World of Murder


The Schlaepfer Family Massacre

On May 20th 1992 in Paerata, a family was massacred by one of it's own. Brian Schlaepfer, aged 64, turned on his family following an argument with his wife. Only his nine-year-old granddaughter, Linda, survived.

According to a police reconstruction this is what happened:

Brian Schlaepfer was suffering from depression and an argument with his wife Jocelyn, aged 55, early that morning, ended in him stabbing her in the heart in their bedroom. Their 33 year-old son, Karl, got up to investigate and was shot in the neck while standing at his bedroom door. Brian Schalepfer then went out to the tool shed where he shot his 31 year-old son, Darrell, in the jaw and throat.

In another farmhouse on the property, Hazel Schlaepfer heard the shots and got up to investigate. As she approached her in-laws' home, Brian shot her in the arm and chest. She managed to get back to her farmhouse and dial 111, but was followed by Brian who went into her son's (his grandson's) room. He stabbed 11-year-old Aaron as he lay in bed, causing fatal wounds to his abdomen and chest. He then went into his granddaughter Linda's room but was unable to find her, so went back to the kitchen where Hazel was on the phone to Constable Stuck pleading for help. He finished her off with a shot to her face and another to the abdomen.

He returned to the implement shed where his youngest son lay dead and waited for his eldest son, Peter, aged 39, to return from working on the farm where he shot and stabbed him to death. After wandering into bush, Brian Schlaepfer took his own life with a single shot to the head.

Grandaughter Linda Schlaepfer was the only one in the family left alive. She had hidden in her wardrobe but heard her grandfather shoot her mother and stab her brother. This brave little girl took over the 111 phone call to police and talked to them about what had happened for three hours until the scene was secured and police entered the residence.

A special mention of Constable Stuck needs to be made, as he was the officer who answered Hazel's desperate call, listened helplessly as Hazel was killed, and had to keep calm and talk Linda through the murderous chaos that surrounded her.

Why did this tragedy occur? No one would ever know for sure, but Brian Schlaepfer's mental state was obviously more serious then anyone had thought. It appears his slim hold on sanity was lost when he argued with his wife.



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